Russian Club Strathfield

2012
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Russian Club, Strathfield

Russian House was first founded in 1924 in the centre of the city, when Sydney's Russian population was relatively small, probably around 200 people. It was later renamed The Russian Club. [1] The main functions of the club were to provide a place where Russians could meet to hold functions, social gatherings and other activities such as church services and musical events. Other aspects of the club included a school to teach the Russian language and a Russian library.

The move to Strathfield

In 1956, not long after Sydney's Russian-born population increased in the early 1950s, the club moved from the city to 3 Albert Road, Strathfield. [2] This location was chosen because of the natural concentration of the city's Russian population around the inner-west suburbs of Homebush, Strathfield and Burwood. [3] A major factor for this concentration was the establishment of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul in Vernon Street, Strathfield in 1953, and Strathfield soon became the religious and literary centre.

The club's early interior reflected its many uses. Extensions and renovations to the original building were completed in 1964, and provided a general hall with stage, a bar, kitchen, library, and meeting rooms all suited for the various functions of the club. [4] The installation of the stage allowed for many cultural activities to be held, including Russian music concerts with singers, dancers and pianists, all of which are of great importance to the Russian culture.

In 1977 a youth hall and the Repin Picture Gallery (named for Ivan Repin) were constructed on the same site, leading to an increase in the use of the facilities, with cultural activities providing further support for the local Russian community, and a means of communicating the culture of Russian art. The picture gallery frequently held folk craft and applied arts exhibits. [5] The club also held events supporting the Russian community such as a youth support night in 1989 for those affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

The new club

The end of that year saw the biggest change in the club building's history since its setup in Strathfield. The land on which the original club building was situated was resumed for development of a multistorey commercial and residential block, the Sandalwood Apartments. In exchange, the developers would give the lower floors of the new building to the club, once construction was complete. The club reopened in 1995 and resumed most of its previous activities in the new building. The hall, bar, restaurant and library were re-established in the new premises.

While the club has become the centre of the Russian community in Sydney and greater New South Wales, the current building reflects little of Russian culture. When asked about the physical elements of culture of the club, president Nick Agishev state, 'It's basically a normal club. We have a restaurant, bar, pokies and a hall'. [6] This is partially true, with the club maintaining a physical presence of Russian culture only through decorations and paintings rather than emphasising it through the club's architecture.

The club still hosts events celebrating the major days of Russian culture and is the meeting place of the Russian Ethnic Community Council of New South Wales.

References

Kyra and Peter Tatarinoff, Anatoly Konovets, Irene Kasperski-Andrews, Russians in Strathfield, Russian Ethnic Community Council of NSW Inc, North Strathfield, 1999

Notes

[1] Kyra and Peter Tatarinoff, Anatoly Konovets, Irene Kasperski-Andrews, Russians in Strathfield, Russian Ethnic Community Council of NSW Inc., North Strathfield, 1999, p 40

[2] Kyra and Peter Tatarinoff, Anatoly Konovets, Irene Kasperski-Andrews, Russians in Strathfield, Russian Ethnic Community Council of NSW Inc., North Strathfield, 1999, p v

[3] Kyra and Peter Tatarinoff, Anatoly Konovets, Irene Kasperski-Andrews, Russians in Strathfield, Russian Ethnic Community Council of NSW Inc., North Strathfield, 1999, p 40

[4] Kyra and Peter Tatarinoff, Anatoly Konovets, Irene Kasperski-Andrews, Russians in Strathfield, Russian Ethnic Community Council of NSW Inc., North Strathfield, 1999, p 41

[5] Kyra and Peter Tatarinoff, Anatoly Konovets, Irene Kasperski-Andrews, Russians in Strathfield, Russian Ethnic Community Council of NSW Inc., North Strathfield, 1999, p 42

[6] Nick Agishev, phone conversation with Andrew Chua, 13 March 2012

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